One of my favorite speculations since the end of what Walter Lippmann famously called the American Century concerns the country that will "own" the 21st century. In my last post I proposed the European Union.
Naturally, a European was the first to doubt it. China worried her, as she gave voice to the terror of yore concerning what my parents' generation called the "yellow peril." At the beginning of this decade I thought this would be the Chinese century, too. After all, even now the Chinese are upset their GDP growth slowed to a positive 9 percent last year, poor darlings.
Yet, in the end, modern China is really a bustling coastal shell with a huge very underdeveloped, very poor, very backward inland core. Good luck with that.
And let's not worry about Inja, shall we? India will undo itself. How long can a modernizing country sustain a socioeconomic canyon bolstered by ancient prejudices before it all explodes or the country enters what Marx eurocentrically called "the Asiatic mode of production"?
That leaves the EU, with a landmass about half the size of the United States and a population about one and a half as large, composed almost entirely of skilled workers. Their natural resources include arable land, bauxite, coal, copper, fish, hydropower, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, potash, salt, timber, uranium and zinc.
Who can beat Italian shoes, French wines, German engineering, Spanish olives, skilled and cheap Eastern European labor and British bullshit?
Moreover, because of their 20th century experience of self-annihilation (and their similar history in the 19th and 18th and ...), the Europeans have finally learned the wisdom of nonpower and the prowess of nonmilitary leadership. Who but the Europeans to usher in the eventual EU to end all EUs, the Earth Union?
Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the 21st century, the European Century.